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Barry Strang

Barry Strang, 59, of Casper, recently died in a motorcycle accident. 

Nearly four decades ago, when they were newlyweds, Barry and Pam Strang had a date night ritual.

Every Friday, they would eat Mexican food for dinner, stop by Baskin-Robbins for dessert and top the night off with an ogle at the next-door Harley Davidson shop.

Pam wasn’t as taken with the idea of a motorcycle as her husband was. For the 38 years they were married, she vetoed the idea — they were too dangerous, she said.

But at 59, amidst his semiretirement, Barry decided it was time.

“It’s on my bucket list,” he told her. Not just a motorcycle. A Harley. Pam finally acquiesced, but advised him he would be riding solo despite his enthusiasm to take her for a spin.  

He’d spotted The One at a shop in Lander. It was a 2013 model. It was frill-free.

“I don’t want fancy stuff,” Barry told his wife. “I don’t want something I have to clean. It just fits me.”

On June 27, Barry was fixed to realize his lifelong dream. He and Pam would drive together from Casper to the dealership just outside of Lander, then split up.  She would check up on a quilt she had ordered and he would break the ride in around Lander. They would rendezvous later at the Riverton casino.

Before he left, Barry snapped a quick photo of the new bike and posted it on Facebook.

"44 years finally got one :)," the caption read.

Pam said she had a sinking feeling by the time she reached the Amish furniture store. She got back in her car.

“Next thing I know I’m hearing sirens,” she said. “And I know it’s him. I could feel it.”

***

The couple, originally from Sacramento, Calif., moved to the Casper area in 1988 and settled in the dusty fringes of the city near the airport.

Pam was tired of the crowds in California and had always wanted to live in the country.

“I just said, ‘You know, I’d really like to live on a farm,’” she said. “So we did.”

Barry and Pam raised their two children, Justin, 21 and Morgan, 17, in Casper. Justin followed in his father’s passion to become an avid hunter, and Morgan finished up high school a year early. Her dad attended the Kelly Walsh graduation ceremony this May.

Barry had no hay farming or outfitting experience but carved his niche in both from scratch. He made his living at his companies, Quality Farms and Strang and Son Outfitters.

“He was a rancher by trade and an outfitter by passion,” said his brother, Ron Strang, who also lives in Casper.

Good friend and fellow hunter Kirk Ziker said Barry applied that gusto to his latest, related mission — convincing Game and Fish to adjust the way it assigns hunting licenses.

“He was very resourceful,” Ziker said. “If there was just a problem at all, he would find a way to fix it.”

Barry wrote letters to Game and Fish, talked with fishmen, attended meetings and had been in contact with Star-Tribune reporter Christine Peterson for an article for more than a year.

The article published on June 30. Barry would never read it.

***

Barry felt no pain when he died, the coroner said.

He was riding his long-awaited Harley Davidson northbound on Highway 789 when he negotiated a right-hand curve and, for unknown reasons, collided with the drive axles of a truck tractor, according to Wyoming Highway Patrol report. Strang was ejected from the motorcycle and went under the tractor-trailer. His helmet flew 30 feet away, Pam said later. It didn’t make much difference.

He had driven just three miles.

Pam waited for 45 minutes in backed-up traffic until she could reach her husband. She called her sister, who tried to assure a hysterical Pam that it wasn’t Barry. Pam said she knew better.

“I felt him,” she said.

Pam said she feels no anger or resentment at the cruel irony of the situation. Her husband lived his life to the fullest and died living life to the fullest, she said.

“It was something he wanted his whole life,” Pam said. “It’s like my son said, ‘Dad went out with the biggest smile on his face.’”   

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Reach crime reporter Megan Cassidy at 307-266-0534 or megan.cassidy@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter @meganrcassidy.

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